Guardian (Bahá'í Faith)

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The Guardian is a hereditary office of the Bahá'í Faith that is first mentioned in the Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá. Shoghi Effendi was named as the first Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, and future Guardians were to be appointed from among the male descendants of Bahá'u'lláh. However, since Shoghi Effendi died without having named a successor Guardian, no person could be named to fulfill the position after his death on November 4, 1957, and he remains the only individual acknowledged as Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, but his guidance remains in the written record of his many writings.[1][2]

Background

Being `Abdu'l-Bahá's eldest grandson, the first son of `Abdu'l-Bahá's eldest daughter Ḍiyá'iyyih Khánum, Shoghi Effendi had a special relationship with his grandfather. Zia Baghdadi, a contemporary Bahá'í, relates that when Shoghi Effendi was only five years of age, he pestered his grandfather to write a Tablet for him, which `Abdu'l-Bahá obliged.[3]

`Abdu'l-Bahá's family physician, a German doctor who later became a Bahá'í, would relate that in 1910, when Shoghi Effendi was thirteen years old, `Abdu'l-Bahá named him his successor, referring to him as his "future Elisha."[4][5] Shoghi Effendi remained close to his grandfather during his years as a student, first at the LaSallian Collège des Frères in Haifa and later as a boarder in Beirut, first at a Catholic school and later at the Syrian Protestant College. Shoghi Effendi was to accompany his grandfather on his journeys to the West but was unable to proceed after port authorities in Naples prevented Shoghi Effendi from continuing due to illness.[6][7] At the end of World War I, after he had received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Beirut, Shoghi Effendi spent nearly two years of constant companionship with `Abdu'l-Bahá before proceeding to Oxford to further his studies and improve his English.[8]

At the time of `Abdu'l-Bahá's death in Acre on November 28, 1921, Shoghi Effendi was a twenty-four-year-old student enrolled at Balliol College, Oxford.[1][9] Upon reading the telegram announcing `Abdu'l-Bahá's death, in the home of Wellesley Tudor Pole who was Secretary of the London Local Spiritual Assembly, Shoghi Effendi passed out.[10][11] After spending a few days with John Esslemont, Shoghi Effendi left England on December 16, 1921, accompanied by Lady Blomfield and his sister Ruhangiz, and arrived in Haifa on December 29.[12][13] `Abdu'l-Bahá's Will and Testament, addressed to Shoghi Effendi, was read a few days after Shoghi Effendi's arrival in Haifa.[14]

Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

The Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was written by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá on three different occasions, and the text remains in three parts.[15][16] In his Will ‘Abdu’l-Bahá addresses the Bahá'í Covenant and the role of Mírzá Muhammad `Alí as a Covenant-breaker; outlines the obligation and responsibilities of the Hands of the Cause of God; explains the election of the Universal House of Justice; and defines the institution of the Guardianship as a hereditary office with its essential function as Interpreter of the Bahá'í writings.[15][16] Shoghi Effendi describes the Will, along with the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the Tablets of the Divine Plan, and the Tablet of Carmel, as one of the charters of the Bahá'í Administrative Order.[17][18]

`Abdu'l-Bahá's will provided a framework for the Guardian within the Bahá'í administration including:

  • `A requirement that the Guardian appoint his successor "in his own life-time ... that differences may not arise after his [the Guardian's] passing."[19] The appointee was required to be either the first-born son of the Guardian, or one of the Aghsán (literally: Branches; male descendants of Bahá'u'lláh).[19] Finally, `Abdu'l-Bahá left a responsibility to nine Hands of the Cause, elected from all of the Hands, who "whether unanimously or by a majority vote, must give their assent to the choice of the one whom the Guardian of the Cause of God hath chosen as his successor."[20]
  • `Abdu'l-Bahá's will also stated that the Hands of the Cause were to be nominated and appointed by the Guardian and are to be under his direction and obey his command.[20]
  • The Guardian is to be the head of the Universal House of Justice and either attend its deliberations in person or appoint a representative to do so.[21]
  • `Abdu'l-Bahá's will stipulates that Huqúqu'lláh, which had been made directly to Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá during their lifetimes, would henceforth be made to the Guardian.[22]

Appointing Shoghi Effendi as Guardian

Although in the Kitáb-i-‘Ahd Bahá'u'lláh designates Mírzá Muhammad `Alí as `Abdu'l-Bahá's successor,[23] in his Will, `Abdu'l-Bahá reprimands his brother as "The Center of Sedition, the Prime Mover of mischief"[24] and establishes the institution of the Guardianship, appointing Shoghi Effendi to this newly created office:[1][2]

Shoghi Effendi writings on the Institution of the Guardianship

As Guardian, Shoghi Effendi held a new and distinct role. Building on the foundation that had been established in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá's will, Shoghi Effendi elaborated on the role of the Guardian in the developing Bahá'í Administrative Order in several works, including Bahá'í Administration and the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, in the chapter entitled The Administrative Order.[1][2][25]

In those works, Shoghi Effendi goes to great lengths to emphasize that the Guardianship is a distinct station from that of Manifestation or Center of the Covenant:[1][2][25] Shoghi Effendi also was critical of Bahá'ís referring to him as a holy personage, asking them not to celebrate his birthday or have his picture on display.[25] Furthermore, he did not refer to his own personal role as an individual, but instead to the institution of the Guardianship.[1][2] In his correspondences, Shoghi Effendi signed his letters to Bahá'ís as "brother" and "co-worker," to the extent that even when addressing youth, he referred to himself as "Your True Brother."[26][27] Instead, Shoghi Effendi goes to great lengths to emphasize the significance of the "Institution of Guardianship," which he calls the "head cornerstone of the Administrative Order of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh,"[28]

In his writings, Shoghi Effendi delineates a distinct separation of powers between the "twin pillars that support this mighty Administrative Structure—the institutions of the Guardianship and of the Universal House of Justice."[29]

Rights of the Guardian

  • Interpreter of the Bahá'í writing : As Guardian, Shoghi Effendi was the "Interpreter of the Word of God,"[30] "with the right and obligation to interpret the Bahá’í teachings."[31] His interpretations of the writings of Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá were authoritative and binding.[25][32]
  • Expulsion and excommunication : The Guardian has the power to declare Bahá'ís who cause disunity in the Faith as Covenant-breakers:[1][2][22]

After Shoghi Effendi

Although the Kitáb-i-Aqdas requires every Bahá'í to have a will,[33][34] Shoghi Effendi did not have one when he died unexpectedly of Asian Flu on November 4, 1957 in London, England.[1][2] Shoghi Effendi did not have any children and had not designated a successor Guardian. With all living male descendants of Bahá'u'lláh having been declared Covenant-breakers by either `Abdu'l-Bahá or Shoghi Effendi, no suitable qualifying candidates remained for appointment to the office of Guardian.[1][2][35]

On November 19, 1957, nine of the Hands of the Cause issued an "Official Statement" after searching through Shogi Effendi's personal affects in Haifa, Israel, affirming that "the safe and desk have been opened and searched and the non existence of a Will and Testament executed by Shoghi Effendi was definitely established."[36] A subsequent "Unanimous Proclamation of the 27 Hands of the Cause of God" on November 25 confirmed that Shoghi Effendi had died "without having appointed his successor."[37] The Hands of the Cause unanimously voted it was impossible to legitimately recognize and assent to a successor.[38] The Bahá'í community was in a situation not dealt with explicitly in the provisions of the Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá.[19] Furthermore, the Universal House of Justice had not yet been elected, which represented the only Bahá'í institution authorized to adjudicate on matters not covered by the religion's three central figures.[20]

The Hands of the Cause of God elected from among their own nine individuals who would serve as Custodians to help lead the transition of the International Bahá'í Council, whose members had previously been appointed by Shoghi Effendi, into the Universal House of Justice, whose members are elected by all the members of each Bahá'í National Spiritual Assembly in the world.[39]

On April 8, 1960, Mason Remey one of the Hands of the Cause and president of the International Bahá'í Council, issued a written announcement claiming that he was the second Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith. He based his claim on the idea that by appointing him as President of the International Bahá'í Council, the embryonic form of the Universal House of Justice which would be led by the Guardian, Shoghi Effendi had in fact implicitly named him as the second Guardian.[40] Mason Remey's claim was largely rejected with several notable exceptions, including five members of the National Spiritual Assembly of France led by Joel Marangella. The remaining 26 Hands of the Cause unanimously declared Remey and whoever followed him Covenant-breakers.

The Universal House of Justice, the only institution authorized to adjudicate on situations not covered in scripture, later announced that it could not legislate to make possible the appointment of a successor Guardian to Shoghi Effendi.[41] The Universal House of Justice also determined that it could not appoint any further Hands of the Cause, whose work is now carried out by other appointed institutions such as the Continental Counsellors and the Auxiliary Boards.

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Smith, Peter (2000). "Shoghi Effendi". A concise encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. pp. 314–317. ISBN 978-1-85168-184-6. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Smith, Peter (2000). "Guardianship". A concise encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. pp. 169–170. ISBN 978-1-85168-184-6. 
  3. ^ Rabbani, R. (1969). "The Childhood and Youth of Shoghi Effendi". The Priceless Pearl (Hardcover ed.). London, UK: Bahá'í Publishing Trust: 2000. p. 8. ISBN 978-1-870989-91-6. 
  4. ^ Rabbani, R. (1969). "The Childhood and Youth of Shoghi Effendi". The Priceless Pearl (Hardcover ed.). London, UK: Bahá'í Publishing Trust: 2000. p. 13. ISBN 978-1-870989-91-6. 
  5. ^ Gail, Marzieh (1971), "'Abdu'l-Bahá: Portrayals from East and West", World Order, 06 (01): 29–41 
  6. ^ Rabbani, R. (1969). "The Childhood and Youth of Shoghi Effendi". The Priceless Pearl (Hardcover ed.). London, UK: Bahá'í Publishing Trust: 2000. p. 20. ISBN 978-1-870989-91-6. 
  7. ^ Smith, Peter (2000). "'Abdu'l-Bahá". A Concise Encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. pp. 16–18. ISBN 978-1-85168-184-6. 
  8. ^ Rabbani, R. (1969). "The Childhood and Youth of Shoghi Effendi". The Priceless Pearl (Hardcover ed.). London, UK: Bahá'í Publishing Trust: 2000. pp. 30–31. ISBN 978-1-870989-91-6. 
  9. ^ Khadem, Riaz (1999). Shoghi Effendi in Oxford. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. ISBN 978-0-85398-423-8. 
  10. ^ Khanum, Rúhíyyih (1958-08-28). Merrick, David, ed. "Talks / presentations by Bahá'í notables". Rúhíyyih Khanum's Tribute to Shoghi Effendi at the Kampala Conference Jan 1958. Bahá'í Library Online. Retrieved October 17, 2016. 
  11. ^ Khanum, Rúhíyyih (1988). The Guardian of the Baha'i Faith. 27 Rutland Gate, London: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. p. 13. ISBN 0-900125-59-4. 
  12. ^ Rabbani, R. (1969). "The Passing of `Abdu'l-Bahá and Its Immediate Consequences". The Priceless Pearl (Hardcover ed.). London, UK: Bahá'í Publishing Trust: 2000. p. 41. ISBN 978-1-870989-91-6. 
  13. ^ Taherzadeh, A. (2000). The Child of the Covenant. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. pp. 272–273. ISBN 978-0-85398-439-9. 
  14. ^ Rabbani, R. (1969). "The Passing of `Abdu'l-Bahá and Its Immediate Consequences". The Priceless Pearl (Hardcover ed.). London, UK: Bahá'í Publishing Trust: 2000. p. 44. ISBN 978-1-870989-91-6. 
  15. ^ a b Smith, Peter (2000). "Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá". A concise encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. pp. 356–357. ISBN 1-85168-184-1. 
  16. ^ a b ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1990) [1901-08]. The Will And Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Bahá'í Publishing Trust. ISBN 978-0877433736. 
  17. ^ Effendi, Shoghi. "Achievements of Second Year of Ten Year Plan". Messages to the Bahá’í World: 1950–1957. Bahá'í Publishing Trust. p. 85. 
  18. ^ Effendi, Shoghi (1944). "Chapter XII: Bahá'u'lláh's Incarceration in 'Akká (Continued)". God Passes By. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. p. 214. ISBN 0-87743-020-9. 
  19. ^ a b c Smith 2000, pp. 169–170
  20. ^ a b c Smith 2000, pp. 175–177
  21. ^ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1990) [1901-08]. "Part One". The Will And Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. pp. 14–15. ISBN 978-0877433736. 
  22. ^ a b Smith, Peter (2000). "Covenant". A concise encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. pp. 114–5. ISBN 1-85168-184-1. 
  23. ^ Bahá'u'lláh (1994) [1873-92]. "Kitáb-i-`Ahd (Book of the Covenant)". Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh Revealed After the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. p. 223. ISBN 0-87743-174-4. 
  24. ^ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1990) [1901-08]. "Part One". The Will And Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. p. 9. ISBN 978-0877433736. 
  25. ^ a b c d Smith, Peter (2000). "Shoghi Effendi, Writings of". A concise encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. pp. 317–318. ISBN 978-1-85168-184-6. 
  26. ^ Effendi, Shoghi (April 1, 1991). Your True Brother: Messages to Junior Youth Written. George Ronald. ISBN 978-0853983248. 
  27. ^ Effendi, Shoghi (1974). Bahá'í Administration. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. ISBN 978-0-87743-166-4. 
  28. ^ Effendi, Shoghi (1947). "Institution of Guardianship Now Further Reinforced". Messages to America: Selected Letters and Cablegrams Addressed to the Baha'i of North America 1932-1946. Baha'i Publishing Committee. p. 8. 
  29. ^ Effendi, Shoghi (1938). "The Administrative Order". The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. p. 148. ISBN 0-87743-231-7. 
  30. ^ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1990) [1901-08]. "Part One". The Will And Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. p. 11. ISBN 978-0877433736. 
  31. ^ Effendi, Shoghi (1938). "The Administrative Order". The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. p. 151. ISBN 0-87743-231-7. 
  32. ^ Smith, Peter (2008). An Introduction to the Baha'i Faith. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 55–56, 102–103. ISBN 0-521-86251-5. 
  33. ^ Bahá'u'lláh (1992) [1873]. "Paragraph 109". The Kitáb-i-Aqdas: The Most Holy Book. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. ISBN 978-0853989998. 
  34. ^ Universal House of Justice (2000). "Clarification on Bahá'í Wills". Messages from The Universal House of Justice, 1986-2001. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. p. 229. ISBN 978-0877433569. 
  35. ^ Smith, Peter (2000). "Custodians". A concise encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. p. 117. ISBN 978-1-85168-184-6. 
  36. ^ Rabbani, R. (1992). "Official Statement". Ministry of the Custodians: An Account of the Stewardship of the Hands of the Cause 1957-1963 (Hardcover ed.). Haifa: Baha'i World Centre. p. 27. ISBN 978-0853983507. 
  37. ^ Rabbani, R. (1992). "Unanimous Proclamation of the 27 Hands of the Cause of God". Ministry of the Custodians: An Account of the Stewardship of the Hands of the Cause 1957-1963 (Hardcover ed.). Haifa: Baha'i World Centre. p. 28. ISBN 978-0853983507. 
  38. ^ Momen 2003, §G.2.e [1]
  39. ^ Rabbani, R. (1992). "Resolution of the Hands of Cause of God". Ministry of the Custodians: An Account of the Stewardship of the Hands of the Cause 1957-1963 (Hardcover ed.). Haifa: Baha'i World Centre. p. 34. ISBN 978-0853983507. 
  40. ^ Smith, Peter (2000). A concise encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. p. 292. ISBN 978-1-85168-184-6. 
  41. ^ Universal House of Justice (1996). Marks, Geoffry W., ed. Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-86. Baha'i Publishing Trust. p. 14. ISBN 978-0877432395. 

References

  • ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1990) [1901-08]. The Will And Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. ISBN 978-0877433736. 
  • Bahá'u'lláh (1992) [1873]. "Paragraph 109". The Kitáb-i-Aqdas: The Most Holy Book. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. ISBN 978-0853989998. 
  • Bahá'u'lláh, Abdu'l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi, and Universal House of Justice (1988) [1983]. Hornby, Helen, ed. Lights of Guidance: A Bahá'í Reference File (2nd ed.). Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. ISBN 978-8185091464. 
  • Effendi, Shoghi (1974). Bahá'í Administration. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. ISBN 0-87743-166-3. 
  • Effendi, Shoghi (1944). God Passes By. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. ISBN 0-87743-020-9. 
  • Effendi, Shoghi (1947). "Institution of Guardianship Now Further Reinforced". Messages to America: Selected Letters and Cablegrams Addressed to the Baha'i of North America 1932-1946. Baha'i Publishing Committee. p. 8. 
  • Effendi, Shoghi (1971). Messages to the Bahá’í World: 1950–1957. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. 
  • Effendi, Shoghi (1938). "The Administrative Order". The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. ISBN 0-87743-231-7. 
  • Effendi, Shoghi (April 1, 1991). Your True Brother: Messages to Junior Youth Written. George Ronald. ISBN 978-0853983248. 
  • Gail, Marzieh (1971), "'Abdu'l-Bahá: Portrayals from East and West", World Order, 06 (01): 29–41 
  • Hofman, David (1982). Commentary on the Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá. George Ronald, Oxford, UK. ISBN 0-85398-158-2. 
  • Khanum, Rúhíyyih (1988). The Guardian of the Baha'i Faith. 27 Rutland Gate, London: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. ISBN 0-900125-59-4. 
  • Khanum, Rúhíyyih (July 28, 1958). Merrick, David, ed. "Talks / presentations by Bahá'í notables". Rúhíyyih Khanum's Tribute to Shoghi Effendi at the Kampala Conference Jan 1958. Bahá'í Library Online. Retrieved October 17, 2016. 
  • Khadem, Riaz (1999). Shoghi Effendi in Oxford. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. ISBN 978-0-85398-423-8. 
  • Rabbani, R. (1992). Ministry of the Custodians: An Account of the Stewardship of the Hands of the Cause 1957-1963 (Hardcover ed.). Haifa: Baha'i World Centre. ISBN 978-0853983507. 
  • Rabbani, R. (1969). The Priceless Pearl (Hardcover ed.). London, UK: Bahá'í Publishing Trust: 2000. ISBN 978-1-870989-91-6. 
  • Smith, Peter (2000). A concise encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. ISBN 978-1-85168-184-6. 
  • Remey, Charles Mason (1960), Proclamation to the Bahá'ís of the World, archived from the original on November 20, 2008, retrieved October 17, 2016 
  • Taherzadeh, A. (2000). The Child of the Covenant. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. ISBN 978-0-85398-439-9. 
  • Universal House of Justice (1996). Marks, Geoffry W., ed. Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-86. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Baha'i Publishing Trust. ISBN 978-0877432395. 
  • Universal House of Justice (2000). "Clarification on Bahá'í Wills". Messages from The Universal House of Justice, 1986-2001. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. p. 229. ISBN 978-0877433569. 
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